Origin of the Origins
During the 2016 winter season, our group of “experienced” performers was enjoying the Premier event at Jupiter High School as we typically have done over the years. The conversation turned, as it often did, to the idea of putting together a winter guard full of performers who haven’t competed in quite some time. The difference here was the reaction of Joyce Hill. Then, over comes Scott Hughes, the Executive Director of the STRYKE ensembles, to sit with us to enjoy the show and in between performances in casual conversation Joyce tells him what we were just talking about, but more in jest than any seriousness. His response was, "Well, why don't you? How can we make that happen?". Joyce then responds, "Hey, don't be messing with my Color Guard feelings. Don't tease us!". He says, "I'm not. I would never do that to you. Let's figure it out." and then he offered to discuss the idea with us formally in the near future.
Well, we had that meeting and things went very well. Scott offered to find space for us at his host site and give us a means to make this vision come true and then rest is history. It still wasn’t clear exactly how or when we would make that happen. Some members wanted to put a show on the floor ASAP, while others felt we needed some time to regain the basic ability to spin and catch.
We met for our first practice with Frankie displaying crutches and a walker. We all had a good laugh and headed off to the mini-gym. To be honest, we were terrible during the early parts of that first workout, but we established at least a competent level of proficiency before too long. We didn’t focus too much on show music or specific equipment work. Instead, we just wanted to re-establish our fundamentals.
Our season consisted of a series of once-a-week practices, every Sunday from early-February until Championships. We struggled, week after week, just trying to learn the show in time for Championships, and we were still adding work and editing the music until the last minute. We were nervous, we were excited, and we knew that we’d reached our “put up or shut up” moment.
And what a moment we had…
We REALLY enjoy performing as a group, and we have even more fun because we don’t have to follow all the rules that competitive guards have to follow. There is no one telling us what we can and cannot do. We don’t feel the pressure to make a statement or pick deep, emotional themes for our show. Instead, we’re committed to picking music that makes everyone want to get up, scream, shout, and stomp during our show. We don’t measure our success by a score, we measure it by the number of people we connect with during the performance.
Our primary goal is to give back to the activity. We all know how much an activity like this helps young kids establish a work ethic, build their self-confidence, and learn the importance of contributing to a team. The kids all learn how to win, they learn how to lose, and they learn how to do both with class and dignity. As our organization continues to grow, we will be volunteering, offering mentorships, and raising money for kids participating in the activity. We hope to encourage everyone to question the artificial limits we all tend to place on ourselves and find a way to start believing that anything is possible.